In what may be the greatest compliment ever made public about Fred Hutchinson, the legendary Stan Musial once said “if I ever hear a player say he
can’t play for Hutch, then I’ll know he can’t play for anybody.”
The number one is immortalized within the walls of Great American Ball Park, belonging to legendary manager Fred Hutchinson. “Hutch” managed the club from 1959-1964, with the highlight being his 1961 club that went all the way to the World Series before being the lamb fed to slaughter of the mighty Bronx Bombers.
Next season in 1962, Hutch led the club to 98 wins, yet due to divisional alignment, the team could only muster a third place finish. Unfortunately, it would be the last great season of his career as during the off-season heading into 1964, one of the game’s finest generals learned that the Grim Reaper had him on his short list. The idea of managing a ball club on the brink of death shows not only Hutch’s extreme dedication to the organization, but his willingness to give every last fiber of his being to helping the Reds win ball games.
His playing career appeared to be short-lived as he was one of the many brave men who left his Major League career behind to serve in the U.S. Navy during the Second World War. He very easily could have opted to not return to professional baseball upon the return from his deployment, but thankfully, he returned the mound and began to unlock the potential that he had shown throughout his career.
An All-Star selection in 1951 was the pinnacle of a nearly 100-win Major League career that surely would have eclipsed that number had it not been for his military service. He took over as player/manager in 1952 and continued to play all the way up until the end of the 1953 campaign. The Reds were the recipient of his bumps in the roads along the way while at the helm of the Tigers and Cardinals before ultimately becoming one of the Reds greatest managers in their illustrious history.
Other #1’s that garnered consideration where Jim Bottomley and George Grantham who played in the 1920’s-30’s. Both had careers with other organizations (Cardinals and Pirates, respectively) that outshone their short period of time in the Queen City.
On January 1st, in honor of the number one, we honor Fred Hutchinson as the greatest member in Reds history to wear the loneliest number. It will forever be immortalized in Reds lore and we salute the man that will always have a special place in Reds history.